Beis Moshiach presents a summary of the maamer the Rebbe MH”M delivered on Yud Shvat 5713, in accordance with the custom established by the Rebbe to review each year a section of the Rebbe Rayatz’s maamer “Basi L’Gani” of 5710. • This year we focus on the third section of the profound and foundational chassidic discourse.
Arranged by Boruch Merkur
SHTUS D’K’DUSHA COUNTERS OUTRIGHT FOLLY
1. The essence of the Sh’china was originally manifested in the physical world. Sins, however, caused it to depart. Then tzaddikim, through the avoda of iskafia, drew the Sh’china back to the world, being especially revealed in the Mishkan and later, in the Beis HaMikdash. The Mishkan was made of atzei shittim, symbolizing the avoda of transforming the shtus that permits evil behavior into something holy, shtus d’k’dusha. “Shtus” comes from “shita – inclined,” an inclination, a deviation, typically towards foolishness. Where extra caution is needed to avoid shtus d’l’umas zeh, shtus d’k’dusha, a “deviation” towards holiness, is required, the effect of which is: bringing the Sh’china back to be revealed in the world.
HOW COULD A SOUL SIN?!
2. “Shtus” is described by the verse, “ki sisteh ishto – were his wife to go astray,” a deviation from modest behavior, engendering sin. Sin is unnatural to a Jew. Of his own accord, the nature of every Jew is that he does not want – nor can he be – separated from G-dliness. Indeed, “a man would not sin – even inadvertently – were it not for a ruach shtus entering him.” Thus, the Zohar comments on the verse, “nefesh ki sechta – a soul that sins” – the Torah and the Alm-ghty are confounded and ask, “How could there possibly be a nefesh (even the lowest dimension of the soul) that sins?!” A ruach shtus, however, covers over the truth and makes it appear to the person that even when he transgresses, his Judaism remains intact. On this basis, it is possible for a Jew to transgress, causing him to be totally separated from G-dliness, even more so than klipos and sitra achra, which do not transgress G-d’s will. [See note below.]
WORSE THAN IDOLATERS?!
3. Now, “G-d of gods” is an expression of idolatry (shituf). So how could a Jew who sins (even nominally) be more separate than that? The answer is that since Jewish souls have a more essential G-dly source – Sovev Kol Almin – they are, therefore, subject to greater scrutiny in recognizing G-d’s oneness. Gentiles, on the other hand, stem from a more external, superficial source: Memalei Kol Almin.
Memalei Kol Almin invests itself within the worlds, as the soul enlivens the body, apportioning overt energy to each limb and organ, as required. This his’chalkus (individualized dissemination) indicates that the body bears relevance to the soul. Thus, the nullification to this source of vitality is not complete, not battul b’metzius (rather, “they call Him ‘G-d of gods’”).
The creations do not bear any significance, however, to the transcendent light of Sovev Kol Almin, much like the vitality that is not revealed within the body, its transcendent life-force. This dynamic is reflected in the concept of creation ex nihilo, where the ayin is not perceived by the yesh, for the source of creation is concealed.
ONLY JEWS FORBIDDEN ‘SHITUF’
4. Jews are forbidden shituf because they are rooted in Atzmus, or Sovev Kol Almin, the inner aspect of G-d’s will. At this level there is no reckoning with anything other than G-dliness. In virtue of his soul being rooted in G-d’s essence, which transcends division, every Jew, even the most ignorant, stands in self-sacrifice so as not to commit idolatry, not even paying lip service to it. Gentiles, on the other hand, do not have a connection to Sovev – just Memalei. They are, therefore, not forbidden shituf, for that belief does not oppose the level to which they have a connection, their source. Calling the Alm-ghty “G-d of gods” is indeed idolatrous, which is the opposite of the Divine will. Nevertheless, in so doing, the evil forces do not oppose the level of will to which they have a connection. However, since it opposes the level of Divine will that pertains to a Jew, it is an act of rebellion for him. And in that sense he is more debased than klipos and sitra achra, and totally removed from G-dliness.
TALK IS CHEAP, SUPERFICIAL: HOW TO CONVEY THE ESSENCE
5. It says in Eitz Chayim that there is a single small spark of Creator enclothed within a single spark of a created being, called Yechida. Now, the Tzemach Tzedek writes that the Yechida is rooted in the Keilim. This requires explanation, for Keilim signify limitation and division (whereas G-d’s essence – the source of the soul mentioned earlier – transcends all limitation and division, etc.). However, the soul, especially the Yechida, is rooted in the inner dimension of the Keilim, which, in turn, is united with the light that invests itself within it. That is, the spark of Creator and the Yechida become a single entity, united in essence – not remaining as two distinct entities, separate one from the other.
Two illustrations are provided to express this dynamic:
a) It is the inner part of the vessel that comes into contact with its contents, signifying that it is united with the light it contains, including the essence of the light. The outside of the vessel, however, does not come into contact with its contents. Its purpose, rather, is merely to distribute its contents outward, a process which does not convey the essence. (That is, in the process of hishtalshlus, the essence of the light does not reach something outside, something beyond its source.)
b) The latter point is developed further in the second illustration, which outlines the difference between oral communication and hashpaas ha’tipa, the process of reproduction. The communication of ideas, what a master teaches his student, is strictly a hashpaa chitzonis, a transference of something that is (comparatively) superficial. Thus, “one approaches the knowledge of his master” only eventually, for the master himself, his essence, is not transferred in verbal communication; just his words are conveyed. In contrast, the process of reproduction is an internal process that produces offspring that resemble the father in essence, for the very essence of the father is present in his progeny from the moment of conception. This process does not take place b’derech hishtalshlus, but by means of a hefsek, an interruption in the causal chain, allowing the essence to leap outwards (as in Creation ex nihilo.)
DELIGHTING IN SHTUS? A REAL WASTE
6. It is solely on account of a ruach shtus that a person can sin. A ruach shtus is the predominance of a desire for (even permissible) physical pleasure. Entertaining this desire has the effect of cooling a person off spiritually and desensitizing him from enjoying G-dliness. Now, worldly desire is called “shtus” for two reasons: a) many physical delights result in a bitter aftermath. b) Physical pleasure is called “shtus” because it is actually waste. Just as the digestive system extracts the nutrients from food and excretes waste, so too On High, angels sift out and elevate the spiritual manifestation of pleasure, especially spiritual delights, and extract from it what is considered waste in comparison. This process results in the spiritual waste descending, ultimately becoming manifest in the physical world as earthly delights. Thus, taking pleasure in it is indeed an act of great folly, insofar as it is the exchange of G-dly delight for physical pleasure, which is actually waste.
LIKE A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP
7. Now, the cause of a ruach shtus is the person being an animal. For just as an animal lacks intellect, the person who sins lacks daas d’k’dusha, a holy mindset, causing him to crave physical things, etc. Even if he has an understanding of holiness, that is not enough; there must specifically be daas, sensitivity in his soul, to ward off the ruach shtus.
There are three levels of daas.
a) Intellectual immersion; connecting with the subject matter through deep contemplation (“And Adam knew, etc.”).
b) A more profound level of daas is having an emotional response to the knowledge. A child is, therefore, not obligated in Mitzvos, for he does not appreciate their preciousness.
c) Deeper still, daas means irrevocable knowledge – having a recognition of the matter to the point that it is validated to him, as something that is seen, with no need for proof or corroboration.
Where daas is lacking and shtus finds its way in, correction is required. Although in general, one must take the middle path, if the person has veered from this path towards the side of evil, he must correct it by veering to the other extreme. Being that shtus d’l’umas zeh and sins cause the Divine presence to depart, shtus d’k’dusha is needed to bring it back.
THE NEED FOR HELP FROM ON HIGH
8. Now, Moshe and Aharon were responsible for illuminating souls. Indeed, Aharon is the embodiment of the principle, “have love of humanity (ha’brios, the creatures) and draw them close to the Torah,” meaning that he reached out even to those who are merely “brios – creations,” possessing no other virtue than having been created by G-d. Even towards these “creatures,” Aharon showed affection, great love. Likewise, the n’siim, whose every concern – with regard to matters of Torah and Mitzvos as well as guiding the Jewish people – is overseen with love of their fellow Jews, love of Torah, and love of G-d.
And this virtue is channeled to all the Chassidim, each individual according to his personal situation, his standing and his state of being. We must exert our own effort, but assistance and the capacity for success must be granted from Above, in general, and in particular, from the neshama from which the Jew stems. As a result, the Sh’china dwells in the work of our hands, and returns to the physical world.
Notes from the Rebbe MH”M in response to the many questions he received on the maamer Basi L’Gani 5713, Section 2, end, where it says: the gentile nations, the klipos, and sitra achra do not transgress G-d’s will… “they call Him ‘G-d of gods,’” but they do not rebel against Him outright.
At first glance, it is difficult to understand:
a) The fact is that we find that Gentiles do transgress the Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach, the seven commandments they are charged with observing.
The answer is simple, along the lines of what was said with regard to a Jew: Transgressions are attributed to the ruach shtus that enters the person, which covers over and conceals the truth, and which contradicts the fact that “they [show Him deference and] call Him ‘G-d of gods.’” But unto themselves, as they spawn from klipos and sitra achra, their nature is such that they would not transgress nor would they rebel. For example, Bilam said, “I am not able to transgress the word of G-d” (see Tanya Ch. 24), although he had bestiality with his donkey (Sanhedrin 105b; Zohar I 128b), which is a transgression of one of the Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach.
b) We find that there are Gentiles who utterly deny the existence of G-d.
This difficulty, of course, is not on the maamer but on the saying of our Sages (Menachos, end): “they call Him ‘G-d of gods.’” (The Gemara learns this from the verse (T’hillim 113:3), “From the rising of the sun unto its setting, etc.”). This Talmudic statement is the foundation of what is elucidated in the maamer.
The explanation of the matter is understood from what is written in Seifer HaMitzvos of the Tzemach Tzedek, in the section dealing with the Mitzva of Recognizing the Unity of G-d, end. See there. This, however, is not a suitable forum for a lengthier discussion of the matter.
c) In the beginning of Section 7 of the maamer, it says, “just about all the souls of our generation are called “zera beheima – animal offspring.” What is the source for that claim?
The source is Torah Ohr of the Alter Rebbe (author of Tanya and Shulchan Aruch), Parshas Mishpatim, beginning. His statement is founded upon what is written in Zohar II Parshas Mishpatim, beginning (94b, end). See Ramaz there. See also the Alter Rebbe’s Likkutei Torah Parshas Tzav (8b ff.), Shaarei T’shuva (of his son, the Mitteler Rebbe), Vol. 1, words beginning “Shishim Heima,” among other sources.
(Seifer Maamarim, Melukat 2, pg. 294)